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Thanksgiving Football shopping pumpkin pie fall leaves turkey dinner Family pilgrims blessings cornucopia peace love thankful
Thanksgiving Football shopping pumpkin pie fall leaves turkey dinner Family pilgrims blessings cornucopia peace love thankful
Thanksgiving Football shopping pumpkin pie fall leaves turkey dinner Family pilgrims blessings cornucopia peace love thankful
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One empowered woman's struggle against the world
Wednesday March 29th 2017

What To Do If the Other Parent Doesn’t Show

There are many cases where even the best parenting agreement can’t work. If both parents aren’t committed then even the best plan fails. There are some things that you can do to help facilitate visits. Although you may welcome not having the other parent show up; your kids don’t. You should always strive to ensure your child gets time with both parents regardless of your relationship with your ex. Below are some practical solutions that might help.

My ex didn’t show up on a regular basis for some time. It took time and communication to change that. Now he shows up consistently and we have a much better relationship. First thing I learned was to stop preparing my son for a visit that might not happen. Second I had to learn to stop making plans as if my ex would show up. If you don’t expect the other parent to show up then it lessens the disappointment when they don’t show for you and your child.

In my parenting agreement there is a clause that says if you are 45 mins late the visit is canceled. I added this clause after making plans and then being late myself as I was waiting for my ex to show up. I never had to actually cancel a visit but if I had to have I could have fallen back on the agreement to prevent any arguments. This is important as you may have an engagement that you must attend. If you need to send your child to a sitter or daycare or grandparents you shouldn’t be penalized or get grief over it. You are entitled to a life outside of your children.

Now I would call once it reached the appointed time and my ex wasn’t there. Sometimes he was just running late. Other times he just wasn’t coming and didn’t remember to call. A simple phone call can avoid a lot of anger and frustration so pick up the phone and call before you assume what is going on.

I have another clause in my parenting agreement that states after 3 missed visits a $45 payment has to be made to me to cover the cost. Child support is set up under the belief that both parents are actively participating in the child’s life. When one parent doesn’t show up it adds expense to the other parent. One of my ex’s consistently canceled visits but after that clause was added it got soooooo much better quickly. Keep in mind this wasn’t to punish my ex. This was done to make sure he came for his visits. Sometimes the parent doesn’t realize how often they cancel. When they have to start writing a check when they miss a visit it helps them remember.

Another great option is to reschedule. Remember that you should be flexible. It is annoying to always be the one to be flexible but you have children. In my case, I have my children for 26 days out of 30. That is the standard every other weekend visitation schedule. If the other parent can’t make it this weekend allow them to reschedule. It is your job to ensure your kids get the support they need from both parents. Doesn’t sound fair but in almost all cases the parent visiting gets way less time with the children.

They key to all of the above is communication. The parenting agreement has set out the expectations there is no need to argue over anything. When the expectations are not met ask why. No contention needed.

Now there are going to be the parents that just never show up. You can try talking to them to figure out why they don’t show up. I have heard some parents say they just don’t feel welcome any longer in their child’s life. This happens most often when the other parent has moved on and has started a new relationship. You need to ensure your kids come first. You might like your ex…you might loathe them….but your kids still love them.

Another reason some parents stop visiting is because they get grief every time they show up. Don’t discuss things when the parent shows up to pick up the kids. The visitation time is for the kids. This is not the time to complain about or to your ex. If you have something to discuss then find a separate time to do it. This is your kid’s time not yours.

The best advice I can give is to minimize the damage to your child. When visits aren’t consistent it can create self-doubt, low self-esteem and even a sense of not being loved by the other parent any longer. Definitely let the visits be a surprise. Don’t prepare your child for a visit that probably won’t happen. Talk to your child and explain that the other parent isn’t coming and make sure they know it has nothing to do with them. You don’t have to and shouldn’t, in fact, lie but do be careful with brutally honesty as well.

Don’t ever give up. My ex didn’t come on a regular basis for the first three years. He has since come just about every time and he and our son have a good relationship. No pressure, no nagging just patience and reminders that his son was still waiting for him.

Reader Feedback

23 Responses to “What To Do If the Other Parent Doesn’t Show”

  1. Kath29 says:
    I thought the divorce was hard but this is even worse. Every other weekend I get my kids dressed and ready to go and then we wait to see if their dad will show. Sadly, he doesn’t usually show. When he does show up he expects the kids to be grateful that he is taking away from “his” time to be with them.

    It hurts me to see the disappointment on my kids faces as the time ticks away and he isn’t there. They love their dad and want to see him. I talked to my lawyer to see if there was some legal way to make him come and visit and there is nothing. I have tried talking to his mom but he tells her it is me keeping the kids from him.

    After reading the article I think I need to start taking a different approach and do as suggested. I need to plan like he isn’t coming and not get the kids ready. It will still hurt them when he doesn’t show up but you are right it is better not to get their hopes up by getting them ready.

    It is unfair to the kids that the courts don’t do something about this.

    • mom says:
      I understand how you feel completely. My ex-husband was doing the same thing while he wasn’t visiting. He would tell his mother that I was refusing to turn our son over for visitation and the police wouldn’t help him. She lived in Michigan at the time and we are in Florida so she couldn’t see what was really going on.

      You wrote you tried talking to his mom, I am wondering does she live close by or at least close enough to visit? If she does, you could offer her his visitation. If he is not going to use it there is no reason why you can’t allow his mother to use it. Make the offer to her. My ex mother in law believed her son because she saw no different. However, every time she came to Florida I made sure she could come and get her grandson and spend time with him. It made it a little harder for her to believe my ex and she started questioning what was really going on.

      Just because a parent is refusing to visit or not being consistent doesn’t mean their entire family will feel the same way. The other parent’s family are your kids family too so consider talking to them about using visitation the other parent is failing to use.

  2. LynnM says:
    It makes me so angry when my ex skips out on visitation. He is good about coming until he gets a new girlfriend and then BAM suddenly the visits stop. The kids don’t understand what is going on they just know one day he comes and the next day he doesn’t come. I am the one left making excuses for him.

    I saw the part about having your ex pay money if he misses visitation and I talked to my attorney about going back to court and having something like it added on to the court order. She thought it was a great idea but isn’t sure the judge will approve it. I think it is worth a try. My ex pays his child support like clock work and never misses a payment because he is afraid of losing his license. He drives an ambulance and without his license he can’t work. I don’t need the extra money but I think it would be a good incentive for him to start coming.

    It is horrible that the happiness of his children isn’t incentive enough.

  3. Drew says:
    I won custody of my kids after a long hard fought custody battle. Their mom wasn’t a bad or anything, she just wasn’t there very often. She was trying to work full-time and go back to school which left little time for the kids. The court gave me custody and ever since she refuses to visit. I have talked to her till I was blue in the face. I told her that she could come whenever she wanted to, not to worry about scheduled times, to make it easier for her but still nothing. Last week she told me it was all or nothing. She told me that if I wanted my kids to have any kind of relationship with her then I needed give her custody back, if I didn’t then she would not see them at all and it would be all my fault.

    I don’t know what to do. I can’t let them go back and live with her because they were basically raising themselves and she has no intention on cutting back on work or school. I can’t imagine my kids not seeing their mom at all either. I know it wouldn’t be my fault but I can’t help but feel like I should be doing something.

    It gave me a little hope when I saw in the post that your ex started coming consistently but it is disturbing that it took 3 years for that to happen.

    • mom says:
      Don’t let the kids go back and live with her is my advice. She is refusing to visit the kids to hurt you and make you feel guilty so you will give her what she wants. It doesn’t matter how good of a mom she is if she isn’t around. You went to court and fought for custody for a reason remember that. If she chooses not to have a relationship with your kids then it is only her fault. I have to question how good of mom she is, if she is willing to use her kids as pawns.
  4. TxMom says:
    It is wrong that the courts can’t make visitation mandatory. It is mandatory for the custodial parent but not the non-custodial parent…who the hell came up with that logic.

    Two years have gone by since my divorce and their dad has shown up a handful of times. I keeping hoping he will get his head out of his ass and see his kids on a regular basis.

    I have searched in vain for some kind of solution and I keep coming across the same advice be flexible, be reasonable, be helpful but that doesn’t work.

    I never heard of a judge ordering a parent to pay for failed visits but you may be on to something to there. I am not sure how to go about even asking for that. Do you ask the court to modify your visitation agreement or your child support agreement? Is it considered child support or something else? Has anyone else heard of this or have this in their agreement?

  5. brokenwings says:
    It is unbelievable that there are “rights” for the non-custodial parent and tons of leeway for them in regards to visitation but little to no rights for the custodial parent. I get that I have the kids the majority of the time and I do my best to be flexible but my ex comes and goes as he pleases.

    It is so hard on my kids to be disappointed over and over when he doesn’t show up. When parties or events come up for the weekends he is scheduled to visit I have to tell the kids no because he might show up and if I don’t have them there then I get in trouble.

    I tired to go back to court and get his visitation canceled or at least reduced but the judge said no. I was scolded by the judge for not being more understanding…wtf?? If he would at least give us some kind of notice when he was actually coming it would be a lot easier to deal with but I get no notice at all, he just shows up whenever he is ready.

    • mom says:
      Getting visitation canceled or reduced is difficult at best. What you need to do is sit down and create a more specific visitation schedule. Include the specific days and times along with a “wait” time. The wait time is how long you have to wait for him to show up. In my agreement it is 45 minutes. If he doesn’t show within 45 minutes of his pick up time then his visitation is canceled. Of course you should be flexible and if he has called to say he will be late then allow it but if you don’t hear from him at all and he doesn’t show in the allotted time frame then you have satisfied your obligation and can make other plans.

      Something else you can do is ask the court to require him to give you either 48 hour or 72 hours notice if he is going to utilize his visitation. You need to document all the visits he misses so when you go to court you can explain that you are requesting this for the benefit of your children. You can show the pattern of missed visits and explain how the kids are being affected by this. Don’t make it about you or why he is missing the visits because the judge isn’t going to care about those things, he is going to care about the kids and what is best for them. It is hard on kids not knowing if mom/dad will show up for visitation and they shouldn’t have to turn down other social activities because he might show up. Make the request and stress you only want the requirement in place until dad can show up on a consistent basis.

      I have said this numerous times to parents, judges don’t like having to make decisions about your kids. They want you and your ex to work together and make these decisions. When you have no choice but to have the judge decide, providing the judge with a well thought out solution that is in the best interest of the kids and encourages visitation and contact with the other parent is the best way to go in my opinion.

      I am not a lawyer, just a parent who has been in front of five different judges over custody and visitation issues. Sit down with a lawyer and discuss your options just remember you do have options.

  6. suavedaddy says:
    It is interesting to see the mix of moms and dads here. I thought my ex wife was the only deadbeat mommy on the block.

    Oh I have never heard of making them pay for missing visitation either…really wouldn’t help in my case as she doesn’t bother to pay her child support either 🙁

    • mom says:
      You would be surprised at the number of mothers who don’t pay child support or don’t visit their kids after they lose custody or give it up voluntarily. We seem to only hear about the so called deadbeat dads but there plenty of deadbeat moms out there as well.
  7. LynnM says:
    I just got back from court today and the judge agreed to modify the visitation agreement. My attorney asked the judge to add a requirement for my ex to pay for skipped visits with the kids.

    I thought the judge was going to say no, as he lectured me about encouraging visitation and being flexible, but he ended his speech with a yes.

    My ex doesn’t have to pay for every skipped visit just the ones he can’t show good cause for missing. If he misses visitation due to work, serious illness or acts of GOD like weather impedeing him getting to my house then he doesn’t have to pay. For anything else he has to pay $20.00 per day for each day he misses.

    The judge explained to my ex and his lawyer, who argued it was penalizing my ex unfairly, that it wasn’t a penalty it was to offset the additional cost I was incurring by having the kids on the days he was suppose to pick them up.

    My ex isn’t happy at the moment but as we were leaving the parking lot he came over to me and said he would be there because there was no way he was ever going to pay me an extra penny. I just said ok, but inside I was jumping for joy. I never wanted more money I just want him to come and see his kids.

    Fingers crossed he starts coming on regular basis…I will keep you updated!

  8. TxMom says:
    OMG…congratulations LynnM. Can I ask what State you are in? I am in Texas and I have been thinking about trying that to see if it would work.
    • mom says:
      TxMom, Texas law is different from Florida. I am not a lawyer so take this as an explanation of what is written in the law book not legal advice. I have looked it up and there is an allowance for a judge to go outside of the guideline amount that doesn’t mean a judge has to do it, but the ability is there. Definitely go see a lawyer about this if it is something you want to pursue. In the case of LynnM, here in Florida a judge can increase or decrease the child support by 5% outside of the guidelines anything over 5% takes written justification. It is considered child support because the money is to cover the expenses of caring for the child outside of the time the parent would normally have them. It is in no way a penalty or a punishment even though most parents who are required to pay it may see it that way.

      Most child support guidelines have a built in presumption that the minimum visitation is going to be used by the non-custodial parent. So in effect, when a non-custodial parent doesn’t use their visitation the custodial parent is left with the burden of covering that entire cost. It is one of those things that is open to interpretation by the judge.

      You probably haven’t heard of it because most people don’t even know it can be done or don’t think to ask for it. There is a great deal of gray area when it comes to Family Law. Ultimately the laws are intended to do what is in the best interest of the child and the laws give judges a good deal of discretion to make sure the spirit of the law is met.

  9. LynnM says:
    We live in Florida. To answer some of your other questions here is what I know happened in my case.

    My attorney filed to modify the visitation agreement to include the part about paying the extra money.

    When the judge was doing all his explaining I didn’t really follow all of it but the money is considered child support. Something about him being allowed to increase the support under the law. Sorry I don’t know much about the laws or which law he was even talking about.

    My regular child support is paid into a state depository and then paid to me but the payments for missed visits are to be paid directly to me.

    Maybe see if you can get a consultation with an attorney and ask them about it. Hope this helps and good luck.

  10. Matt says:
    This is insightful, but it just doesn’t help the kids when the other parent just stays out all together.

    I was that kid, and now, I’m a single parent to two of those kids. Their mom lives across the street of their best friend and won’t make room in her life for them.

    Also, it disturbs me that the only article I can find like this is on a sight called “Momversus”. The text of such articles always refers to the other parent as he or him.

    • Leigh says:
      Matt, I feel for you. I couldn’t imagine my children not having me in their life to help raise them. As a mommy, I just have that feeling that if I am without them then a part of me is missing. I can’t help but think that they kind of feel the same. (at least I hope so) I don’t ever want any single parent to feel that they are not as much of a superhero as another, simply because of their gender. It’s not so. What I’m about to admit to might get me kicked out of the women club, but women tend to be more vocla about their issues, emotions, anger, lives, than men do. No gender of primary parent has it any worse than the other, single parenthood is TOUGH! Keep it up, you can ultimatly be an inspiration to other fathers that just don’t come around.
  11. Gina says:
    My daughters are 15 and 18. Their father and I separated and divorced in 2004. His lawyers insisted on calculating child support based on 50/50 custody (we are in CA)therefore, his child support is a measely $95 per month per child. He has never had the kids 50% of the time. He hasn’t had the 18 yr old in his house since 2007 and the 15 year old sees him 1-2 nights a month if I am out of town. He is behind on the meager child support and has never paid for any of the girls’ orthodontist, uniforms, school related expenses or dance classes, etc. I am now footing the entire bill for university tuition, room and board. I am struggling and he is getting off scott free. How is this fair?
  12. momof2 says:
    i am going through a similar situation with my daughters father. she is only 21 months old and has not seen him in over a month sure he’s called to say he is coming to get her for the weekend but never shows up. After being out of her life for a month he finally wants to seen her but cus it has been a month she will not go with him. she flat out screams whenever he comes near her. i think she doesn’t remember who he is. She is also autistic too
    • Anuta says:
      Like I said in my post, and forgive my bad grammer. Enjoy your daughter and have a great life with her, do not rush or push the whole father subject. If he wants to come around and play with her let him, if he doesn’t let him if she is screaming and not happy but he wants to be there try a slow approach. just my personal opinion.
  13. step-mom67 says:
    I have an issue that seems so turned around compared to what I’ve seen on here and was wondering if anyone has dealt with this. I have a step-son who’s mother has been what I have found to be coined Parent Alienation Syndrome. On top of this, she has turned off her phone when we’ve had the son where we were unable to reach her concerning her forgetting to send his medications. The latest issue we are trying to figure out how to deal with happened where after confirming in phone calls and on text a specific time to her for exchange, (meaning my husband meeting her at an agreed upon location for her to pick him up from his visitation with us) she did not show up and had her phone turned off. After waiting nearly an hour in the hot sun, my husband was able to contact her mother and leave his son with her. How do you deal with this in the future? My husband would have brought him back home however he was scheduled to work and didn’t have the ability to do so. It’s not always the non-custodial parent that doesn’t seem to take into consideration how the child caught in the middle feels.
  14. Anuta says:
    This is so relative to each situation, and that’s why in court of law it’s so difficult to determine what is best for the child. In my personal situation father is not a bad guy or anything, but he is not really there. And my kid is doing just totally fine with out him. This whole idea of children growing up with out there fathers is so antiquated. There is a whole generation fo people after WWII that grew into fine and great being with out having a father and having a strong and independent mother or good step father. I feel that I am not going to go extra step to make my ex-husband visit, he doesn’t want to, oh well better for my kid not to be disappointed when he suppose to show and doesn’t, or doesn’t exist in his life at all. I spoke to many people most of them grew up with their mothers and most of them didn’t get along or even saw much of there father’s (that’s including both of my parents that grew up with no biological fathers). and they are just fine! If you constantly remind your child about the absent father, then of course they would be hurt and disappointed. Thank God I divorced when my kid was only 3 so it was’t too dramatic for him. Do not mean to bring out a storm of emotions here, but just take it easy and enjoy having your kids with you, and be grateful you are the one taking care of them and not that other half. Just my little 5 cente.
  15. Anuta says:
    This is so relative to each situation, and that’s why in court of law it’s so difficult to determine what is best for the child. In my personal situation father is not a bad guy or anything, but he is not really there. And my kid is doing just totally fine with out him. This whole idea of children growing up with out there fathers is so antiquated. There is a whole generation fo people after WWII that grew into fine and great being with out having a father and having a strong and independent mother or good step father. I feel that I am not going to go extra step to make my ex-husband visit, he doesn’t want to, oh well better for my kid not to be disappointed when he suppose to show and doesn’t, or doesn’t exist in his life at all. I spoke to many people most of them grew up with their mothers and most of them didn’t get along or even saw much of there father’s (that’s including both of my parents that grew up with no biological fathers). and they are just fine! If you constantly remind your child about the absent father, then of course they would be hurt and disappointed. Thank God I divorced when my kid was only 3 so it was’t too dramatic for him. Do not mean to bring out a storm of emotions here, but just take it easy and enjoy having your kids with you, and be grateful you are the one taking care of them and not that other half. Just my little 5 cents.

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